Have you ever experienced that sweet feeling when you have been contemplating about doing something for some time and finally accomplishing it? You look back and say: Yes, we did it!
It was exactly what my wife and I felt after organising Sugidama Tsukimi Sake Drinks last week. We managed to put up the event within two weeks. But before that, it took us probably more than a year of talks and thinking, fights and constructive discussions, resentment and admiration, mutual accusations and praising each other, sulking and exhilaration, brainstorming and giving up, to get ready for it.
Well, it’s all now behind us. We feel great satisfaction with what we achieved and are full of plans for future events! While for some people it’s probably not a big deal to organise sake drinks, it was quite a feat for us given the lack of experience and time. In any case, I think it was a great night and hope that everybody who came, enjoyed it.
I feel a bit like an Oscar laureate who is writing their acceptance speech to thank everybody in their life for the award. But yes, I feel really lucky with all my friends and sake professionals who supported us. I want to thank everyone who came to the event, those who help us with the organisation and who donated beautiful prizes for the raffle and the poetry contest!
When I started my blog almost two years ago I could not imagine where it would take me to. I just wanted to share my love for Japan, sake and Japanese culture. But now I am very happy to meet so many interesting people through my passion. So if you are passionate about anything, start your own blog and you will see how your circle of friends and acquaintances will grow.
I was thinking about doing something during Tsukimi (or Otsukimi) for some time. The idea to organise a festival with sake, music, kimono etc. But the summer was quite hectic due to various reasons, while tsukimi this year was too early. So I almost dropped the idea.
However, we were thinking about a different event and were going around London’s Japanese restaurants to check out possible venues and came across Kurobuta at Marble Arch. I knew about them before but had never been to.
When I saw the place I thought that probably I should follow my wife’s advice and start with something simple like drinks. And forthcoming tsukimi was an excellent opportunity.
To make the event a bit more authentic and fun, we came up with our own version of tsukimi decoration. I ordered a moon lamp in case we could not see the moon from the window. My wife made ikebana using grass and plants we picked up in the area we live in. We also took with us a plush bunny to represent a moon rabbit!
Kurobuta was a great place for this kind of events. It’s an izakaya, a Japanese pub, with excellent food developed by a Michelin-star chef and a very good sake menu. While the list of sake wasn’t very extensive compared to some other places in London, it has a very good choice of very good sake.
We ate at the restaurant a couple of times to decide what dishes we would like to recommend and talked multiple times to Darren, who manages the restaurant. He actually helped us a lot in our endeavour from charging a reasonable deposit to putting together the menu.
During the event, Darren was personally looking after our corner and made sure that his team was doing a great job. There were a few hiccups but it’s always a case. Overall, everything went very smoothly. So big thanks from everyone!
Sponsors: quite a list!
I can’t thank enough our sponsors, who provided the prizes and sake for the Sugidama Tsukimi Sake Drinks. I actually didn’t expect such a positive response.
We have prizes from two sake education companies. Tony from VSF Wine Education donated a nice small bottle of Dassai 50, which we used as a second prize in the poetry contest. Satomi from Enshu provided a discount voucher for her excellent International Kikisake-shi course.
Mogi san from JFC UK, one of the major sake importers in the UK, gave us a beautiful bottle of Denshin Yuki Junmai Ginjo sake, which we used the main raffle prize. Masayo from World Sake Imports UK donated a big bottle, isshobin, of Kawashin Ginjo Sake, which we drank at the event. Oliver from Tengu Sake also offered a bottle of sake as a prize, but we decided to use it for one of the next events.
And of course, we have prizes from sake producers. Futatsugi san from Hakutsuru Sake, one of if not the largest sake producer in Japan, donated bottles of their nice ginjo and nigori sake. Miho san from Akashi-Sake Brewery brewery contributed their excellent Akashi-tai sake, a beautiful sake glass and kikichoko, a sake tasting cup.
The Event: the moon and sake
I’m not going to dwell too long on the event description. Rather I will post here photos so you could see how it went. We had around 30 people turned up with various levels of sake awareness. Some of them never tried sake before this event, while others could easily tell honjozo from junmai daiginjo.
I think the event was fun. I made a brief introduction at the beginning and then everybody were eating, drinking and chatting. There was a small delay with serving sake due to some problem with the IT system I believe but it was quickly resolved.
After dinner, we had a raffle with the prizes from our sponsors. Everyone, who registered for the event at the website received an email with a unique number, which I used for the raffle. One of our friends couldn’t find it and said something like: “It’s OK, I never win a prize anyway”. I found the number for her and the next prize was hers! So never give up!
I wanted to do a poetry contest since I first started thinking about a Tsukimi party. We had a very good response and some people had even prepared a poem beforehand. For the main prize, I bought a bottle of Wandering Poet Junmai Ginjo. It resonated very well with the contest! I also bought a nice small ochoko as the third prize.
The winner was a quite long poem about hares, moon, sake and squirrels written in Russian but also translated into English. I’m not going to publish here the full poem but only the ending:
With friends, and an empty bottle of sake
Lying at the foot of a high mountain
We hear squirrels jumping in the river –
The took the moon from the hares.
You can try to guess the beginning 🙂
The second prize went to a nice melancholic haiku:
Moon seen through thin glass
A lone rabbit.
Unfortunately, it was too noisy in the restaurant to read aloud all the poems as I planned. Probably for the next event in a quieter environment. But I can say that I liked all the poetry!
I will publish all the poetry form the contest in a separate post, so you can vote for the best yourselves!
My wife and I really enjoyed organising Tsukimi Sake Drinks. We divided the responsibilities between ourselves in the following way: I was responsible for the content, marketing sponsors and sake, she – for the organisation, design, restaurant and food.
It worked very well. We have learnt quite a lot from this event and have already started discussing new events. It will probably be in the next year as in November we are going to Japan and December is a Christmas season. But yes, watch this space for new exciting sake events.
If you attended Sugidama Tsukimi Sake Drinks, please leave your comments below. What you liked and what you didn’t, what kind of events you want us to organise in the future etc. If you didn’t, subscribe to my email list and I will let you know about our next event.